Each year the Project Renewal ScanVan provides mammograms, clinical breast exams and care coordination for communities in need – regardless of their ability to pay — including to women who are homeless, low-income, or uninsured.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the ScanVan will be providing those services at no cost to low-income residents in Long Island City on Monday, Oct. 19, at the Community Healthcare Network Center located at 36-11 21st St. from 9 a.m. to noon.
Project Renewal’s mission is to end the cycle of homelessness by empowering individuals and families to renew their lives with health, homes and jobs, according to Angela Brunswick, director of the Project Renewal ScanVan.
The 40-foot, state-of-the-art ScanVan is the nation’s first mobile mammography clinic and has been run by Project Renewal since 2008. The van typically travels to more than 200 locations throughout the five boroughs and in Nassau County.
Its regular schedule had been disrupted due to COVID-19, but in July, the van returned to operation after four months off the road.
Amid the pandemic, many women are hesitant to get their mammograms. In May, the Epic Health Research Network indicated breast cancer screenings decreased by 94 percent nationwide, compared to prior years.
Approximately 60 percent of uninsured women who don’t have a regular doctor forgo their annual mammogram because of high costs and lack of access to care.
According to Brunswick, early detection can save lives.
“Once you’re over 50 years old it’s important to get an annual checkup. Black women and white women both get breast cancer, but Black women and women of color die at a higher rate due to disparities in not having access to health insurance, or access to healthcare facilities in their area and not having their annual checkup,” Brunswick said.
The Project Renewal ScanVan is helping underserved women safely access screenings by following strict sanitation and disinfecting guidelines and utilizing personal protective equipment.
“We are also scheduling less patients so that we are seeing a lower capacity of patients. It takes a little extra time because we have to do sanitizing between each patient,” Brunswick said. “Before patients enter the van, we are taking their temperature and making sure they’re wearing a mask and sanitizing their hands.”